Ten years ago a man died. Stabbed twice in the heart, he was taken to hospital and after twenty minutes pronounced dead. To this day it’s never been confirmed if the stabbing was self inflicted or otherwise.
That man was Elliott Smith.
Ten years ago today he died. I wish I’d known about him at the time. At that point I was listening to bands like Tool, Metallica, Marilyn Manson. It was a few years before my musical tastes had matured and mellowed out, and I went seeking out some of his music after reading that Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes had named him as one of his influences. It was a while longer before I realised that I had heard and enjoyed one of his songs before his passing; his cover of The Beatles’ Because, from the film American Beauty.
To paraphrase John Green I fell in love with Elliott Smith the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once. Before long I ended up listening to him twice as much as any other artist (seriously, at the time of writing, according to last.fm I have scrobbled Elliott Smith 1405 times over the last 12 months, the second highest is James Blake with 629 listens).
Like any artist taken from us before their time, Smith has cemented his own place in musical history. The man drew many parallels with another tragic figure, Kurt Cobain. Both had issues with substance abuse, both came from broken families, but had happier times with their father’s side.
I don’t have much more to say that hasn’t been said by better writers, so I’ll leave this with a spotify playlist of a few of my favourites. Here’s to you, Elliott.